Thursday, February 25, 2010


I posted earlier today, and this one kind of speaks for itself, so I'll be brief.

The evidence:

The verdict:

Justice is sweet.

Russia falls to Canada, controversies ensue

 photo by SovSport

The Russians are being sent home after last night's 7-3 loss to Canada in the Olympic quarterfinals.  A disappointing loss to be sure, but in the last two minutes, everything exploded.

This video (from Mediaite and Puck Daddy) covers all the bases:

Let's address the two issues here one at a time. 

#1 Boyle v. Semin

Anyone who knows me knows I will defend Alexander Semin to the death. And even looking at Semin's hit on Dan Boyle as objectively as I possibly can, I see nothing wrong with it. Eddie Olczyk, during the game, called it a "high, late hit," but I don't see anything other than a clean check along the boards. Semin doesn't hit like this all that often, so I considered it to be, frankly, awesome.

So what does Dan Boyle do? Gets up, runs after Semin, and slewfoots him from behind while using his stick to take him down.

Excuse me?

The retaliation was a ridiculously irrational and dangerous reaction to a clean hit. Semin luckily was not hurt, but was definitely taken by surprise by the hit, and struck his head on the ice. And what does Boyle have to say about all this? According to the Seattle Times,
"It was probably a good hit," Boyle said of Semin's check. Then he shrugged, "That's hockey."

If "that's hockey" then no retaliation should be necessary. Just a thought.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau made an interesting comment about the situation after today's practice:
"[Semin's check] was a good check and if this were the NHL he wouldn't have gotten a penalty and Boyle would have gotten a three-game suspension. But it was on a Cap guy, so maybe nothing will happen."

Puck Daddy reports that an IIHF spokesman said "they normally do not review minor penalties in international play and it's unlikely they will do so in this instance, so don't expect Boyle to be suspended for Friday's semifinal."

#2 Mike Milbury

Of course the "American Don Cherry" would mix it up during this game. All of us were holding our collective breaths for the next JR v. Milbury showdown re: Ovechkin. But what popped out of his mouth after the final buzzer was not what I was expecting. A derogatory comment? Even Milbury, he of "Hey Ovi, I'm still your daddy" and "Crapitals" fame, has stooped too low.

The use of the word "Eurotrash" in this instance is offensive, disrespectful, and let's be honest, totally unnecessary. He could have said they played a bad game and he'd be absolutely right. But to say that they "brought their Eurotrash game" is too much, and an over-the-top slight on a team that just lost.

Some people are saying that those of us who are offended are making too much of it. But what if the shoe was on the other foot? What if the Canadians had played poorly and lost, and he used a derogatory term directed at Canadians? The issue is that the term was inappropriate for a national broadcast and especially inappropriate when you consider what the Olympics are supposed to be. The Olympics are about unity - the best of the world coming together to share their talents and learn new things from people of other countries. It is not about using slurs to describe competitors or how they play. As a commentator, Milbury is not even part of the game, and the language he used is unacceptable.

To borrow a quote from Puck Daddy, I think this about sums it up:
In this situation, Milbury tried too hard to bash the Russian's no-show in the one of the tournament's most highly anticipated games and went over the line.

Oh and Mike, when even Sean Avery thinks you've gone too far, it's not a good sign.

Monday, February 8, 2010

An Open Letter to George McPhee

photo by Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive 

Dear George,

First off, I'd like to thank you and Owner Ted Leonsis for everything you've done for this team over the past couple years.  You've taken risks with the team and they've paid off (see: Ovechkin, Alex and Boudreau, Bruce).  With the trade deadline less than a month away, I'd like to give you some advice for this important date:

Do absolutely nothing.

Yes, I said do nothing.  I can honestly say right now that this is a Stanley Cup team.  We of course have the stars, our "Young Guns," but the trades from last year's offseason and this year's mid-season have created the depth the team has been lacking in previous seasons.  

We now have Mike Knuble, "the garbage man," whose work in front of the net is undeniably valuable.  His GWG against Pittsburgh just added to his impressive stats - he has 16 points in the last 14 games.  He's also become a leader on the ice, perhaps filling a little bit of the hole that Sergei Federov left when he departed for the KHL last year.  The respect that his teammates have for him is evident; he didn't get the "A" on his sweater for nothing.

Brendan Morrison was also a great pick-up.  Another veteran, and a former member of the famed "West Coast Express" line, he's become a solid assist man for the Caps, racking up 21 assists so far this season.  While he's been having a bit of a goal slump lately, he's remained decent on faceoffs, winning just over 50% of all his draws.  He has also shown us some gorgeous moves that have rivaled Alexander Semin.

A more recent acquisition was Jason Chimera from the Columbus Blue Jackets.  It's no secret that I was never a fan of Jurcina, but I'll try to keep that bias out of this post in this case.  I'll admit I didn't know much about Chimera before he arrived in Washington.  In his first couple games, I couldn't really formulate an opinion.  But I've come up with an opinion now: He is the fastest player I have ever seen.  When there's a race to the puck, Chimera is the guy you want on the ice.  Not only that, but he also has become a bit of an enforcer, but unlike Brashear, he's an enforcer that can also produce.  He has 10 points in his first 20 games as a Capital.  He's already gotten a Gordie Howe hat trick for his play on January 13 in an eventual shootout win against the Panthers, just two weeks after joining the team.

Jose Theodore has been having his best season yet as a Capital, and looks to be the Vezina- and Hart-winning goalie he once was.  It's been wonderful seeing him finally have confidence in his ability and make those saves that someone 10 years younger than him probably couldn't make.  We also have that depth in the crease now; even with Semyon Varlamov injured, Michal Neuvirth has been providing solid goaltending in his recent starts, and continues to improve.  Neuvirth will definitely become a valuable NHL goaltender once we start needing him full-time.

I also have to address Jeff Schultz.  To be honest, I've never been a fan of his.  I thought he often was lazy and loose with the puck.  But this season, he has proved me wrong.  He has matured to an extent I didn't think possible.  He's been a shot-blocking machine lately, and his impressive +/- rating can't be denied.  Hey, I can admit when I'm wrong.

With this roster, the Capitals have their best chance yet to become Stanley Cup Champions.  We finally have that depth we've been seeking for so many years.  It's becoming more and more evident when you look at our unprecedented 14-win streak.  Let's stick with what we got, George.  Let's just let these guys win.